Joe’s Journal

A holiday ramble

Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 2:00pm

In recent days, as we strung up the Christmas lights and dusted off our seasonal decor, our community was filled with joy.

The annual Harbor Lights festival, coupled with the dazzling light show at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, drew lots of fans, although some were disappointed the other night when the lights went out after a car hit a phone pole on Barter’s Island. Another story for another time.

As usual, the Opera House and the Garden Club put on a sparkling display at the Annual Festival of Trees.

And, of course, Old Santa arrived by boat and paraded to the Memorial Library to meet his fans.

The lighted boat parade, our quirky local take on the season, delighted the crowds who braved the chilly air. 

All in all, the lights, kids, carols, and Santa provided a good curtain-raiser for our coastal seasonal celebration while, behind the scenes, local elves hustled to make sure that all our friends and neighbors are able to participate in the joys of the season. Good for them.

I hope you had a chance to visit at least some of the attractions in Boothbay, Wiscasset, and Damariscotta. We did.

The celebrations gave us a chance to go outside and escape from the bombshells that the national news funneled to our flat screens. I was dazzled by the onslaught and I’ll bet you were too.

I guess it started with the accounts of national figures accused of, and in some cases, acknowledging, that they engaged in improper behavior towards women and young girls. Yuck!

In Alabama, the chief issue in a U.S. Senate race had nothing to do with taxes or trade policy. The outcome will be determined by whether the voters believe one of the candidates engaged in improper behavior with a teen-aged girl. Double Yuck.

Later, our TV screens were filled with the sight of an Army Lt. General, a former National Security Advisor, who marched into a Federal Courthouse where he pleaded guilty to a felony. Court documents tell us he admitted lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigating accusations that last year’s winning presidential campaign played footsie with the Russians. What gives?

“We don’t know what happened, but if something happened, this is the guy in a position to know all about it,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said on one of the Sunday talk shows.

The end of the week saw the U.S. Senate pass a 500-page tax bill touted to cut our taxes, but as the days go on, we find out it was also a Christmas tree filled with goodies designed to gather GOP votes.

On one of the Sunday chat shows, Maine Sen. Angus King predicted we will find some “really stinky stuff” in it.

For example, news reports say it gives a tax break to beer brewers, winemakers and owners of private jet planes. Along the way, it opened the Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling, contained language that seems to chip away at abortion rights, and sliced some provisions of Obamacare.

News reports say a Colorado senator wanted the Senate version of the tax bill to include a tax break for legal marijuana dealers. No word, as of yet, if it made the final cut.

Note: We called the Colorado senator’s office and got the brushoff. Sen. King's press office promised to get right back to us. We are still waiting, but noticed when his office put us on hold, the music playing was “Hail to the Chief.” Hmmm. Is it an omen? 

The good news is that the Senate tax version does provide a break to teachers who fund classroom expenses out of their own pockets. 

Why is all the other stuff added to the tax bill? My first rule of politics holds a politician’s first, and most critical task, to get elected. A candidate can’t do anything unless he wins at the ballot box. In today’s political world, getting elected means raising lots of money for TV ads, consultants, polling, grassroots organization and on and on and on. If you think the special interest boys with the big bucks are going to dole out fat “campaign contributions” without strings, you will believe I can get you a good deal on the old swinging bridge over the Townsend Gut.

Lost in the midst of all last week’s Washington follies is the threat that we may be on the brink of war with North Korea.

Now, aren’t you glad we live on the coast of Maine where traffic is sparse, people are friendly and the hot news in our coffee shops has to do with a new traffic intersection or whether we should permit a developer to build new lodging facilities to attract tourist dollars?

I sure am.

Merry Christmas.